Friday, 14 March 2014

Guest Game 1: Circuit's Edge - Won!

Trickster's Note: The below post (and indeed all posts for Circuit's Edge) was written by guest blogger Zenic Reverie.

Final Night: "I've uncovered the identity of Tamara Carter. With this knowledge I wrapped up the whole affair of who was behind the death of Kenji Carter. I'm now sitting at the side of Papa, enjoying a nice dinner as he contemplates her fate. I sit, eat, and soak in the events of the week keenly aware of how dangerous a world the Budayeen is when in the company of Friedlander Bey."

Now here's how I imagined the conversation going the first time.

So, as I left off the last post, I found myself at a dead end. Not truly a dead end, but one enough that I reached out for help. Luckily I found the issue, as the hints provided weren't precisely what was missing; in fact they were exactly what I was doing. I considered the fact that I had broken the game, or at least found a bug in the game, where I reached a piece of dialogue from such a disconnected location that I feared I'd missed a trigger in the code. In anticipation of this I visited the nurse, and used the holoviewer in her presence. I thought this was enough, but it wasn't. I needed to use the show command instead.

She was so excited to get a snake!

The earrings delivered to the nurse freed her of ethical obligations as she revealed Tamara Carter was now going by the name of Arissa Lockhart. I get a good description of her new appearance before I head out to the best place for information, Chiriga. When I arrive, I just so happened to run into none other than Arissa. In fact, I think I've seen Arissa here many times throughout my journey. I'm sure there was another trigger in all this that allowed Arissa to open up, but when I confronted her about "Tamara" she confessed that was her true identity.

A notebook I could have found if I knew where you lived.

She confessed to killing Marco Herrera after he threatened her. Of course, the sole reason she was in his presence was to confront him about killing her father. Abu Salah seems to be the main killer behind all this, or at least the one who employed the other Herrera brother. Arissa flitted off to procure the notebook tucked in her apartment. She promised she'd call when she had it. I tried to finally rest for the night, but was awoken once again by my belt phone. "Meet me at my apartment!" Arissa invited. Great, not this again.

At this point I'm fairly sure it would be entirely expected.

Inside the apartment I found it obscenely disordered. The only thing of note was a note addressed to me from Abu. "Meet me at the warehouse where Manny died, I have the girl and the notebook," it said (paraphrased). Thus began the ending sequence. Upon arrival Abu Salah launched into a monologue where he laid out the entire plot. The notebook is one of Friedlander's workbooks where he details many of his dealings. He fears keeping such information in a computer because it's so easily infiltrated. So, this notebook came into the possession of Kenji Carter who felt the need to blackmail Papa.

Oh, and did I mention Arissa was strapped to some torture contraption?

Abu decided that he could control Papa with such information, and set out to retrieve it from Kenji, killing anyone who got in the way. Kenji and Manny were in cahoots with Abu at first, but instead of giving it to Abu were about to sell it back to Papa. The McDix were roman numerals all along, and the connection to Mack Dixon was a red herring. 1409 was the combination to the safe in Arissa's apartment that contained the notebook, a fact completely irrelevant to my interactions. Strangely 1409 is said to be the birth year of Papa... is this a different measurement of time or is this game based in the past? With the back story completely wrapped up to this point Abu levels his pistol at me, and the fight of the century begins.

Just kidding, he was a pushover.

Abu slumped to the ground, dropping the notebook. Arissa pleads to be released, but the only thing immediately available to interact with was the notebook. Picking it up, or attempting to, causes Abu to revive just enough to activate the torture device. As it whirs to life, a timer starts to countdown. Seems it needs about an hour to reach full torture potential.

Oh! You mean this black key I've been carrying around for half the game?

Dangle it in front of the lock for the next 58 minutes? Sounds like a plan...

I'm really not sure how it takes an hour for me to cross the room.

Injecting such tension when there's really none seems par for the course. The game enters its final moments with the grace of a hippo in heat. Saving Arissa causes her to collapse into my arms whimpering. Then in a strange turn she suggests we meet up later on so she can properly repay me. I'm fairly sure that won't happen though as the game appears to be wrapping up. Last step is to report to Papa.

Maybe if Marid asks nicely he'll be able to question her.

Papa is pleased I kept Tamara alive for questioning, and returning the notebook is what this whole sordid affair was about. To summarize the rest of the exposition, it's a rough life to live in the shadow of Papa, but Marid may come out of it a little better with the knowledge of what happens when you cross Friedlander Bey. After all this an epilogue scrolls by, a letter from the project director to Lt. Hajjar. It reads as an advertisement for the author's next book.

In fact, it ends with one.

And that concludes the adventures of Marid Audran for this blog. I'm fairly sure this is the only game entry for this series. If there is another, I won't be jumping at the chance to delve into it any time soon. This game just did not click with me in any way. Thank you for reading through the posts, and I hope you found something to enjoy about it. Sorry to have dragged it on for far longer than it deserved. I'll leave it up for comments to decide if I should wrap it up properly with a PISSED score.

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 00 minutes


  1. Congrats on finishing what seemed like an unexciting game. I've enjoyed your guest posts despite the fact I doubt I'd enjoy the game itself.

    1. Thank you. I enjoyed writing about it even though I didn't enjoy the game itself. Playing the game was definitely the bottleneck.

  2. This game felt like a bad version of Neuromancer, to read. (And I didn't awfully like Neuromancer!) I'm not entirely sure that the PISSED rating is necessary for a game that Trick didn't even deign to play - after all, it seems to me as though applying someone else's rating schemes to a different palate (say he's far more forgiving of bad graphics in exchange for better sound or vice versa) - but it might be fun to see how you'd go on a rating post, even for something as droll as this.

    1. I'll take a spin at it and see where it lands.

    2. Oh, and RE: Neuromancer comparison... I'm not sure which game comes out on top. Circuit's Edge has a lot more characters, places, and events, but Neuromancer's action (no matter how dull it got) never really let up. I can't recommend either as a good cyberpunk game.

    3. I really liked the feel. Honestly, I lost the plot a fair bit; It had a lot of unnecessary characters, which is a really easy way to lose me; I suck with names, so everyone blurs together. My habit of reading after work, and going out with friends probably doesn't help this either.

      That said, I really think this game rocked the setting and atmosphere. Noir, future, cyberpunk, LGBT et al. was very, very original. I like that they didn't just do the standard "Here is a bunch of zany things that let us use MOON LOGIC" thing, nor the normal "Generic PI in a generic US city" thing.

    4. It was definitely a different feel; however, I can't say I had fun playing through it. I think the take away here is if you're going to allow the player to get lost at least have additional events to distract from aimless wandering around.

    5. I'm also unpleasantly surprised that there was nothing said about the sudden thoughts that Marid would have, depending on the Moddies jacked in, other than that Alpine Jack one.

      I personally like how you'd spew some random Zen nonsense (with the KungFu Master chip) while talking with some NPCs and to have them react negatively towards you like you're some kinda madman. That, to me, shows a very innovative piece of gameplay element never before seen in ANY games.

    6. I found it annoying that it'd interrupt me while I was trying to guess the correct keyword as if the game had eaten my input. I'll make sure to mention it though. ;)

    7. Well... the manual did you to take out your chip so that your own personality would not get in the way of your social interactions, since not many people would like to be lectured on Taoism by a KungFu Master or interrogated by a Super Spy.

  3. Congratulations on finally finishing. At least the game is only dull and not pure evil like Les Manley.

    1. Yes, well, there is that. Thanks, I'm glad to be done.

  4. Congratulations on finishing the game! Wasn't there already bets for the score? That would kind of demand a rating...

    I suppose they follow Islamic calendar in Budayeen. 1409 would have been around 1988-1989 in our calendar.

    1. Oh right, there were some guesses for the final score. I'll go ahead and write that up.

      Ah, I didn't realize the Islamic calendar was so young. Makes sense now.

    2. Islam is founded around 500+ AD. Then again... why don't we have implants and holovids yet?!

    3. Kenny: 1988 AD was Papa's birth year, and he looks at least sixty years old. Just wait for another 30-40 years and we'll have those holovids and implants.

    4. So... that "old" geezer is actually younger than me? Why that lil' whippersnapper!

  5. Big Games Big Weekend promo on GoG:
    The Raven
    The Night of the Rabbit
    Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
    Deponia 3

    1. CAPs for you! (I'm sure Trickster will reward you)

      Don't forget though, there's a secondary sale going on. Pick 5 games for up to 90% off
      The Book of Unwritten Tales
      The Book of Unwritten Tales - The Critter Chronicles

    2. Sale time!

      Return to Mysterious Island: Point and click, boring premise, 3D graphics but no flair to the art. New release though (6 Mar 2014), and on sale. DOUBLE POINTS! KA-CHING.

      Return to Mysterious Island 2: Huh, this one looks MUCH more interesting. I wish Trick paid per-game, rather then per-sale. That would reward hunting down each game much more. Also new and on sale:

      Cypress Inheritance: The Beginning: Also 10 Mar 2014, so another new game. Why are there so many ugly 3D adventure games coming out? BAH. If your game has good art direction put up better screen shots. WHY DO YOU MAKE YOUR GAME LOOK BORING? WHY?

      Also: I want to shoot stuff tonight! Why do I own no FPS except Boarderlands, which got boring ages ago? Why are none on sale on Steam, or at least, none that don't look terrible or arena-based (ie Painkiller). Wait, Crysis is on sale, hmmmmmmmmmmm....

    3. OH hey, Descent is on steam. Anyone remember that? Great joystick game, back in the day. Mix a flight sim's 3D space, with FPS style gameplay. Fly into a room upside down, shoot someone then zip backwards out the door? Sure why not? Lots of doors in the ceiling, that kind of thing.

    4. Oh, and The Night of the Rabbit is on sale. WHAT? NO BAD 3D GRAPHICS? WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?

    5. Um, wow. Jim Sterling did a thing on Cypress Inheritance: A) Not much of an adventure game B) He summarized it as, and I quote "Pretty shit"

  6. As a big fan of the books (When Gravity Fails is my favorite novel) I have been surprised to see you guys dislike it so much. I think the game is fantastic, one of the best I've ever played. When it was released, I marveled at the freedom to walk around the Budayeen, see and interact with the characters from the books and just generally explore at my own pace. It was the first RPG I personally played where you could go anywhere and start talking to anyone at any time. (It also looked amazing to PC players in 1989. Sure, they were doing great things on the Amiga and ST, but this popped on a 286, haha. I think the music holds up to this day.)

    At the beginning, I know I tried to visit all the stores and shops and try to get a handle on all the moddies and daddies that were in the game. From a design standpoint, this is really solid -- you can tantalize the player by making certain moddies expensive, creating the alternate goals to the central mystery of fighting enough muggers and criminals to get cash. But where I was getting little bumps of encouragement ("Hey, that's Chiri from the novel! And here is Fuad! Cool!") if this is your first exposure, there isn't anything special about the characters in the game.

    However, I guess the big disconnect between my experiences and Zenic's is that when you read the blog entries, you see Zenic talking about his thought processes to advance the game. He describes a lot of detective work! He interviewed suspects and possible witnesses, ran around the Budayeen to find items he recalled seeing before... they don't make games like this anymore. I don't want to describe modern games as a bunch of quest arrows, because I love games like Fallout 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and so forth. But being "on your own" in this one was something I enjoyed. It gave me a number of a-ha moments as -- nowhere near a computer -- I thought of solutions to get past places I was stuck.

    That said, a lot of the wit from the novel is missing. Marid Audran is self-destructive and self-loathing, but one of the most genuinely funny and witty protagonists in all of fiction. That doesn't come across at all in the game. The native resolution was, what, 320x200? They had room on the disks for lots of text, but the amount of wasted space in the UI There really should have been a lot more dialogue written by Effinger, instead of all the throwaway lines.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the series, it was neat to get a different perspective on it. :)

    1. Having not played the game myself, it's easy to be influenced by the bloggers experience and his/hers personal opinion. Getting a second impression like yours is so important because it balances out and lets us see the entire thing from another angle.

      It seems like it's the kind of game that really benefits from having read the books. It's not necessarily anything wrong about that, but it limits the enjoyment from people that haven't read the books already.

      I'm sure there are personal favorites of mine that'll be rated badly and not enjoyed by Trickster, but that's just something I'll have to be prepared for. Anyway, thank you so much for giving us your opinion, it kind of makes me want to play the game after all, and isn't that the point? ;)

    2. How are the books? I'm on a reading kick as of late (Part of the reason I'm so far behind is I've read....three? four? Something like that, novels since Sunday.)

    3. When Gravity Fails and A Fire in the Sun are really great and really fun. The Exile Kiss (the third book in the trilogy) has an enormous plot hole towards the end that I never got my head around. Effinger did a lot of terrific work outside of cyberpunk as well -- I'd also recommend The Wolves of Memory, which I think is included in a still-in-print complilation called A Thousand Deaths.

    4. You and me both, Jonsey. The books are great. I mean, cyberpunk+sex+drugs+Islam? How the hell could any writer pull that off? And yet, George did it and it was great.

      I'm surprised Zenic couldn't feel that exotic Middle-Eastern vibe reverberating throughout the futuristic dystopia. That East-Meets-West & Old-Meets-New thing is really something to behold.

    5. Hopefully my thoughts are expressed better in the final review post. I will say, I believe a lot of my disdain for the game came from the tunnel vision focus on the main quest (however disjointed it was presented), and the lack of responses outside of that line. It felt like this should be an open world, but completely dropped any such pretense as soon as it started to give nonsensical answers to what I thought were legitimate topics.

      I will admit the setting was interesting, just not as interactive as it could have been. I'm not familiar with the book, so that definitely added to the disconnect. Fuad, Chiri, and Saied played such minor bit roles that I had a hard time relating them to the story even though they were supposed to be key members of Marid's social circle.

    6. Yeah, I guess.

      Deus Ex: Human Revolution almost had something similar when they initially planned to have the mid-game happen in Bangladesh. Not Middle-Eastern but still pretty Islamic, yet changed to China after a few months of planning.

  7. The Journeyman Project - Pegasus Prime is finally coming out for Windows and Linux:

    And to think - it's only been 17 years since it came out for Mac.